Asian economies are leading the recovery of international container trade volumes, but strong growth across the region could see pre-recession pressure on freight infrastructure re-emerge, a senior executive of container shipping line APL told a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on May 20.
“Intra-Asia is already the world’s single largest container trade,” Jason Wong, Vice President of APL’s Intra Asia trade, told the 8th ASEAN Ports & Shipping Conference. “This will continue over the long term as Asian consumer markets develop.”
By 2015, Intra Asia will contribute 32% of global containerised trade, with the Asia-U.S. and Asia-Europe trades 17% and 18% respectively, according to analyst Global Insight.
Wong said that along with China and India, South East Asian economies such as Vietnam and Indonesia had shown resilience to the global crisis and had continued to grow in 2010.
More transportation services will be required to support the growth of freight moving within Asia, according to Wong, who identified North Asia to South East Asia as a high potential trade. To serve this market, he said, APL launched the Japan Thailand Vietnam and Korea China Straits services in 2009.
Wong said freight infrastructure development must be a top priority across Asia to optimise trade flows and maximise economic growth.
He highlighted Vietnam’s progress in developing world-class freight handling facilities – particularly those in and around Ho Chi Minh City ¬– such as Vietnam International Container Terminal (VICT), and new deepwater terminals such as Saigon Port-PSA (SP-PSA). It was from the SP-PSA terminal that APL launched the industry’s first direct container shipping service between Vietnam and the US in 2009.
“These facilities will help place Vietnam alongside the top trading nations,” concluded Wong.
APL and its parent company, Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), have had a long association with Vietnam. APL-NOL became the first Singapore-based transportation and logistics company to establish wholly owned operations in Vietnam on 1 January 2007. NOL is also the major investor in the Vietnam International Container Terminal (VICT), which became the country's first purpose-built container handling facility when it commenced operations in 1998.